Budgeting can be hard and tedious but essential, so I’m here to drop some tips on what I have done in the past to create a budget while in college. Through these actions, I managed to save a little more than $9,000.00 while working at a job that paid a little over minimum wage.
1. Work part-time. You can do it, I promise! You can have the college experience and focus on being financially responsible. Try to find a job that is flexible and one that will complement your resume. If you want to work somewhere that doesn’t currently have open applications; you can always physically drop off a resume. If you’re required to find an internship, talk to your adviser; they might be able to help you find one that is paid. I was able to make new friendships and strengthen the skills on my resume.
2. BIOLIFE. Okay, I have to admit that donating plasma may not give you the best feeling in the world; I always viewed it as basically selling myself for money. However, when those coupons come out to make extra dough, it adds up. Plus, you are donating your plasma towards research that will help others!
3. Checking and Savings Account. I love my credit union! It’s helpful to get yourself in a routine of transferring money from your checking account and putting it into your savings account. I have an automatic withdraw that takes place the day after payday. Another great resource is a budget book; you can find my favorite here.
4. Buy USED. For two years, I didn’t buy any new clothing, furniture, or appliances unless it was used or on sale. Salvation Army, eBay, and Goodwill are all excellent places to check out. eBay is great to use when looking for specific items. Tip: Goodwill usually has clothing from Ann Taylor. The company regularly asks its buyers to donate their gently worn clothing to Goodwill. Ann Taylor will even send a shipping box to your home to ship off your used apparel.
5. COUPONS. I use the Ibotta app and Honey.com to search for coupons. These are great tools. Otherwise, a quick Google search usually comes up with a coupon that can be applied to your order. If you shop at Hy-vee, you can load coupons on your fuel saver card.
6. Keep a Spending Summary. Keep a log of what you’re spending and with what method of payment. You can easily use a notebook or do a Google search to find a template online. The Erin Condren Budget Book can help with this as well.
7. GoFundMe. Your family and friends may not always be able to help you, but having a GoFundMe set up can allow them to donate when they are in a place to do so.
8. Credit Cards. An easy way to start building your credit, but be careful. Do not spend more than you need to. Credit cards can be a nice back up to make larger purchases. Also, enrolling in auto-pay is an excellent way to never miss a payment. I would recommend paying the statement balance rather than just the minimum amount.
9. Eat at Home. Work on lessening how much you are eating out, and when you’ve hit your spending limit, try to come up with other options. Maybe someone can treat you or see if they would be interested in cooking together at your home.
10. Scholarships. APPLY, APPLY, APPLY. If you’re not sure how to get started, contact your advisor or counselor. Scholarships helped me in times of need! Your university may have other programs that can assist you, as well. I highly recommend looking into if your university has the TRIO program.
11. Need help? Please don’t be ashamed or afraid to ask for it. You never know who might be able to help you. Check around your community for places that offer rent and utility assistance.